Ragged Trousered Folk


A full house at the Jenny Lind to commemorate Robert Tressell 100 years after the publication of 'the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' on Saturday 26 April. There were several acts, with David Rovics from Portland, Oregon top of the bill. We had a series of "rousing 5 minute speeches" before each set, from Hastings against War, World Development Movement, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 5 Days in May and (of course!) Hastings PSC.
The evening was a great success. David Rovics comes over like a breath of fresh air. All credit to Tony Street for organising.

All Aboard the Mavi Marmara - David Rovics

The Nakba. In 1948, terror gangs such as the Irgun started the Israeli policy of ethnic cleaning of the Palestinian people. 13,000 Palestinians, men, women and children, were massacred, more than 400 villages were destroyed, 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their towns and villages, and became refugees. Some of the commanders of these terror gangs went on to become Israeli Prime Ministers.

But the corporate media forever tells us that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists.

The terror has continued. Massacres of the Palestinians, and massacres of the Lebanese have taken place right up until today.

Since Israel invaded and occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the Palestinians have suffered under an illegal, military rule. Since 2000, Israel has killed over 6800 Palestinians - that includes over 1600 women and children. In fact Israel murders a Palestinian child every 3 days - shot, blown to bits, burnt alive.

One of the most callous, brazen series of war crimes carried out by Israel has been the so-called Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Israel targetted civilians, bombing hospitals, a school and a mosque. 110 women and 345 children were murdered.

But the politicians, in the UK and the USA, forever tell us that it is the Palestinians who are the terrorists.

Israel bulldozes and destroys Palestinian buildings (30,000 to date), it steals Palestinian water (80% of it), cuts down, rips out, burns down thousands of Palestinian olive trees every year, makes sure that Palestinian industry doesn't stand a chance. Israel builds the Apartheid Wall which steals even more land for the illegal settlements, scatters checkpoints throughout the occupied lands which stop freedom of movement and are designed to humiliate and degrade.

112 people have died at checkpoints; 35 babies and 5 mothers have died at checkpoints.

There's the obscenity of the Israeli siege of Gaza. Farmers and fishermen are regularly fired on and killed. Drones are used for daily intelligence, surveillance, and target killings. Israel won't allow sufficient construction material for re-building. It will only allow enough food into Gaza to allow the people to barely survive, resulting in stunted growth in young children. Israel has created the world's largest prison.

There are other obscenities, such as the 70 prisoners tortured to death in Israeli jails since 1967. And not forgetting Israel's 200+ nuclear weapons. And its chemical weapons. It won't allow any outside agency to inspect any of these instruments of mass terror. The corporate media obediently keep quiet on this.

So Israel is a rogue state. It ignores international law, carries out war crimes, ethnic cleansing and collective punishment of the worst kind. So who is the terrorist here?

Clearly, it is Israel carrying out a policy of state terrorism.

But Israel doesn't operate in a vacuum. It can't do this on its own. At the United Nations recently there were 4 resolutions condemning Israel and supporting the rights of the Palestinian people. The vote on each one was 46-1. No prizes for guessing who voted against. Yes, the world's number one imperial power. The US has pumped $121 billion into Israel; at the moment it sends $8.5 million of military aid - per day. We shouldn't forget Britain's usual subservience to the US in all of this, and not to forget that Britain helped develop Israel's nuclear weapons.

But things are changing, things are on the move.

Palestinian trade unions and political organisations have called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions - known as BDS. This has really taken off. News of successes come in every day. Just some examples. The biggest Dutch pension fund has taken all its money out of the 5 biggest Israeli banks; big financial institutions in Norway, Denmark and Luxembourg have followed suite.

At a local level, the boycott movement closed down the Ahava shop in London; there are regular pickets outside the Sodastream shop in Brighton.

Foreign companies that are complicit in the occupation are being hit - G4S and Veolia have lost some very big contracts - all due to local activists. Veolia has lost an estimated £14.3 billion in contracts. The BDS movement can help finish off Israeli apartheid, just as it did South African apartheid.

But ultimately, it is the Palestinian people who will win this struggle. Against such a brutal occupation, the Palestinian people have shown an incredible resolve, an outstanding heroism. A couple of months back, a group of Palestinian youngsters demolished an Israeli checkpoint. Now that takes a lot of guts, especially when you're up against live bullets, even unannounced drones.

We've got to play our part, and we look forward to the day when the Palestinian people win this struggle - as surely they will.